Taylor urges men to feel nuts

Taylor Tombides has paid a moving tribute to his late brother Dylan and encouraged men to feel their nuts regularly as part of a national testicular cancer awareness campaign.

The West Ham United striker lost brother Dylan to cancer in April 2014, nearly three years after the 20-year-old had initially been diagnosed with testicular cancer at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup finals.

Months before his disease was picked up by a random drugs test, Dylan had been to see a doctor after discovering a lump, only to be told he likely had nothing more troublesome than a cyst.

Dylan showed amazing courage in fighting off the disease three times, but it ultimately spread to his vital organs and the brave Australian passed away with his family at his side.

Six months on from Dylan's untimely passing, Taylor spoke for the first time publicly about the pain caused by his loss, and urged men everywhere to be diligent when it comes to checking their own testicles for potential issues.

The 18-year-old appeared on Channel 4's 'Feeling Nuts' show, an evening of entertainment that encourages the nation's men to feel nuts and aimed at raising awareness of testicular cancer, alongside mother Tracylee and father Jim.

The Tombides family have set up The DT38 Foundation to raise awareness and support of testicular cancer in young men and to enable young players to fulfil their potential, where without funding and support neither of these would be possible. For more details, click here.

"Since me and my brother were little kids, we always wanted to be professional footballers and he got scouted straight away by West Ham and moved into the West Ham Academy," Taylor began. "He was the big man and was scoring four goals a game and was named on the bench for the first team on the last day of the 2010/11 season. At 17-years-old, that was an excellent achievement.

"That summer, he was called-up by Australia for the U17 World Cup in Mexico. A few weeks before he went to Mexico, he had a little lump on his testicle, so my Dad took him to the GP. The GP said it 'You've probably got a cyst, so don't worry' and he didn't think anything of it.

"Before they played Brazil, he had a mandatory urine test to see if he was taking any drugs. After the game, he got called in and was told either he was taking an illegal drug or he had cancer.

"When we found out, it was heart-breaking. It was the worst news you could ever think of. Within a week, he had his surgery done and he started five months of hard chemotherapy sessions.After that, the doctors said he was all-cleared, which was excellent news for us and he was over the moon about it."

Tragically, Dylan's cancer returned twice more, but his illness did not stop him from making his first-team debut in a League Cup tie against Wigan Athletic in September 2012.

"He made his debut while undergoing chemo, which was an incredible achievement," Taylor continued. "The doctors still don't know how he ever managed to play football. He's an inspiration to everyone.

"He physically changed because he lost weight and his complexion changed, but his personality never did. He was still the funniest guy at the Club."

In January 2014, Dylan played for Australia at the Asian U-22 Championship finals, but cancer would take his life just three months later.

"He had another blood test and it had come back again for the fourth time in a row. The doctors said to him 'There is nothing more we can do. The chemo is not killing it'.

"He moved to Germany for treatment but he wasn't getting better. The cancer was spreading and it was slowly, slowly killing him. We found out the day before he died that his body was giving up on him.

"The next day he passed away and that was a heart-breaker for me and my family. It just killed our spirits and it was definitely the hardest time of our lives."

A memorial service for Dylan was attended by hundreds of team-mates, friends, family members and supporters, before he was laid to rest in his native Perth.

For Taylor, the tragedy of losing his brother was made even more difficult to take because an early diagnosis could have saved his life.

"There was a massive service for him, even people that didn't know him were touched by his story. If he was diagnosed early before it had spread anywhere else, then it would have been a simple procedure and he could still be here.

"Anyone now who goes into a GP with a lump on their testicle should automatically have a blood test and an ultrasound. I do recommend, even if it is the slightest notice that something might not be right, to tell someone about it or go straight to a GP.

"It's better to be safe than sorry, because it could be your life on the line."

To watch Taylor's moving tribute, click here.